Joy is not the same as happiness, although we’ve been led to believe that the two are interchangeable. Joy is a feeling that comes from faith in abiding goodness – a goodness that exists but can’t always be readily seen or felt.
Christmas is about the joy we can feel because of God’s promises and God’s action – God’s extraordinary act of love for humanity. God chooses to live in and among what God created in human flesh. On this side of heaven, will we ever understand why God did this? I don’t think so.
God coming to us as Emmanuel through the miracle of Christmas is a reminder that God walks with us, even in times that are not joyful. God is large enough to hold our celebrations along with any sorrows. Even when hearts overflow with sadness that seems out of step with the season, we can have sure faith that we serve a God who has known pain and therefore knows our pain.
This message is excerpted from the devotional “Room for our celebration, our sorrow” by Denise Rector in the December 2017 Gather magazine. Today is Christmas Eve.
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